Indian Navy rescues Iranian fishing vessel hijacked by pirates

NEW DELHI (Reuters): The Indian Navy said it had freed a hijacked Iranian fishing vessel from nine armed pirates in the Arabian Sea on Friday, rescuing its crew unharmed.

The fishing vessel, Al-Kambar 786, was southwest of the Yemeni island of Socotra on March 28 when it was reported to have been boarded by pirates, according to a statement from the navy late on Friday.

The ship was intercepted by the INS Sumedha and INS Trishul, leading to "over 12 hours of intense coercive tactical measures" forcing the pirates to surrender, the navy said.

The crew of 23 Pakistani nationals were safe, it said.

"Indian Naval specialist teams are presently undertaking thorough sanitisation and seaworthiness checks of the fishing vessel in order to escort her to a safe area for resuming normal fishing activities," the statement said.

India has responded to 18 incidents, deploying 21 ships and 5,000 personnel in rotation, boarding and investigating over 1,000 vessels, the navy said last week. Its unprecedented presence has deployed more than a dozen warships some days.

Taking advantage of Western forces' focus on protecting shipping from attacks in the Red Sea by Yemen's Iranian-backed Houthi militants, pirates have made or attempted more than 20 hijackings since November, driving up insurance and security costs and adding to a crisis for global shipping companies.

(Reporting by Krishn Kaushik, writing by Nikunj Ohri in New Delhi; Editing by Kim Coghill) - Reuters

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